Sample clip of my debate with an
atheist on the issue of morality.
Find the whole debate at this link
Freethought Without Forethought? Part 6: Why are freethinkers opposed to religion?
Why are freethinkers opposed to religion?
This next section makes the following point:
"Freethinkers are convinced that religious claims have not withstood the tests of reason. Not only is there nothing to be gained by believing an untruth, but there is everything to lose when we sacrifice the indispensable tool of reason on the altar of superstition. Most freethinkers consider religion to be not only untrue, but harmful. It has been used to justify war, slavery, sexism, racism, homophobia, mutilations, intolerance, and oppression of minorities. The totalitarianism of religious absolutes chokes progress."
To state that "religious claims have not withstood the tests of reason" is a statement that is conveniently vague and thus, meaningless. A religious claim may be that a male Jihadist will get 72 virgins by committing murder/suicide. But a religious claim can also be that the universe had a beginning.
"'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD" (Isaiah 1:18).
Another equally convenient, vague and meaningless statement is one that we could simply respond to by stating that secularism of every sort has been used to justify war, slavery, sexism, racism, homophobia, mutilations, intolerance, and oppression of minorities. The totalitarianism of secular absolutes chokes progress (consider, for example, that we are still supposed to believe quaint Victorian era ideas about life coming from non-life, etc.).
Dan Barker unfurling his holiday season prejudice, "At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds"
"Hasn't religion done tremendous good in the world?" The tract continues thusly,
"Many religionists are good people-but they would be good anyway."
This is a mere baseless assertion, another meaningless convenient argument. Just how does Dan Barker know this? He does not. In fact, I can think of various examples of perfectly deplorable and dangerous personages who have become wonderful people strictly due to their coming to develop a relationship with God.
Dan Barker then writes,
"Religion does not have a monopoly on good deeds."
This is a response to an argument that no one has made.
Next we are informed that:
"Most modern social and moral progress has been made by people free from religion--including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Charles Darwin, Margaret Sanger, Albert Einstein, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, H. L. Mencken, Sigmund Freud, Bertrand Russell, Luther Burbank and many others who have enriched humanity."
This list of modern social and moral progressives who were free from religion is, with all dues respect, laughable. Not laughable in a childish manner but because compiling a list of social and moral progressives who were deeply religious would require my computer's entire memory (not to mention that Dan Barker's list is peppered with racists). This reminds me of Sam Harris' quaint argument in this same regard. Sam Harris actually manages to name precisely one single non-religious charitable group, Doctors Without Borders, and thinks that this somehow is an equal balance to the hundreds of thousands of religiously based charities, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, disaster relief organizations, hospitals, universities, adoption agencies, foster homes, etc., etc., etc. Incidentally, I have written an essay about Bertrand Russell's and Sam Harris' fallacious logic in terming them The Dynamic Duo of Demonstrably Deleterious Delusion. Dan Barker then writes,
"Most religions have consistently resisted progress-including the abolition of slavery; women's right to vote and choose contraception and abortion; medical developments such as the use of anesthesia; scientific understanding of the heliocentric solar system and evolution, and the American principle of state/church separation."
This appears to be elephant hurling and there is surely much to be written with regards to all of these subjects. I wish to offer reference material with regards to the charge that religion resisted the understanding of heliocentricity and make a succinct statement about evolution. I cannot speak for whatever "religion" might mean but I can offer an opinion about the Judeo-Christian view of evolution in a general sense: we must define our terms since not even creationists or intelligent design proponents oppose "evolution." What can be scientifically verified is not opposed and does not conflict with the biblical view. What is purely speculative, mere story telling, or purely philosophic is another matter altogether-although this too goes under some definitions of "evolution" and is opposed on both theological and scientific grounds.
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